Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014: David Hall

K G Subramanyan, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Guido van der Werve

War of the RelicsKochi-Muziris Biennale

War of the Relics \ K G Subramanyan

K G Subramanyan is one of India’s leading modernist masters and an influential pedagogue. He has worked with an astonishing range of media, including paintings, murals, terracotta reliefs, illustrated books, glass painting, toys and textile designs. His responsiveness to a plurality of practices and styles has led scholars such as R Sivakumar to describe Subramanyan as one of the few among post-independent Indian artists to develop a coherent and culturally sensitive personal language, one that valued true versatility over the quest for narrow individualism and personal style usually associated with modernism.

War of the RelicsKochi-Muziris Biennale

In 'War of the Relics' (2012), the artist draws upon motifs culled from myth and contemporary culture to depict a complex time-scape of conflict where even decorative motifs acquire theatricality and violence.

War of the RelicsKochi-Muziris Biennale

War of the Relics \ 2012

According to the artist, all cultures have devised signs, symbols and rituals to demonstrate the underlying unity of mankind. With time, however, these devices get uprooted from their meaning and co-opted into sectarian ideologies, become hollow relics of the past; creating distance instead of unity; and bringing the world to war. This history of violence is depicted by Subramanyan through a hybrid range of characters, their intense confrontation capturing the ideological deadlocks at the centre of numerous conflicts, from medieval crusades to the War on Terror.

Pan-anthem Pan-anthem by Rafael Lozano-HemmerKochi-Muziris Biennale

Pan-anthem \ Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is known for subverting high-end technologies of tracking and surveillance to create interactive public installations that mirror the rhizomic networks of information and surveillance which characterise today’s world.

Pan-anthemKochi-Muziris Biennale

Loudspeakers with custom-electronics for sound playback, power distribution battens, ultrasonic proximity sensors, LED screens, steel plates, paper printouts showing alternative statistical arrangements

Pan-anthemKochi-Muziris Biennale

Pan-anthem \ 2014

'Pan-anthem' (2014) is an interactive sound graph based on one of the vital statistics of world nations – their military spending. The installation is composed of moveable speakers, each playing the national anthem of a country it represents, that are arranged on a wall according to military spending. On the far left of this graph stand speakers playing the national anthems of nations with the lowest defence spending – starting with countries with no military forces such as Costa Rica, Iceland and Andorra. The figures increase as we progress to the right, where stand the speakers that play the anthems of nations with the highest allocations, such as the United States of America.

Pan-anthemKochi-Muziris Biennale

The speakers are activated by motion sensors that detect the presence of viewers in front of them. When a speaker is triggered, the labels on it light up, revealing the name of the country and the title of its anthem. As a viewer inspects a large cluster of speakers, a panoramic playback of the anthems of all the countries inhabiting that point in the graph can be heard. The patriotic idealism and heraldry that universally characterise national anthems form a chilling sound narrative in Lozano-Hemmer’s installation to the underlying statistic of military aggression and violence.

Nummer acht: Everything is going to be alright by Guido van der WerveKochi-Muziris Biennale

Nummer acht: Everything is going to be alright \ Guido van der Werve

Dutch artist and film-maker Guido van der Werve’s works are vignettes of the loneliness and absurdity of existence. A trained classical pianist and composer, he is famously obsessed with Frederic Chopin, whose life and compositions form an important part of his many filmed performances alongside references to other exiled romantic figures such as the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. Many of Van der Werve’s dark and idiosyncratic films border on slapstick. For 'Nummer negen: The day I didn’t turn with the world' (2007), Van der Werve stood for 24 hours at the North Pole, letting the Earth rotate under him as he stubbornly turned in the opposite direction.

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